30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

January 16, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"The Troubled Family (2)"


Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?". I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. This morning we are going to continue with our discussion from last week on the subject of the family. God's first great institution, the family, has been troubled from all sides. This morning we will look once again at the troubled family of today. I encourage you to get out your Bible, pen, and paper and be prepared to turn to the passages of scripture given today and also make notes concerning this most valuable subject. For us to be able to correct any problems that we might be having, in this case our family relationship, we must first be willing to make the appropriate changes for the better. No study will be of any benefit if we do not have the right heart to WANT to change our life for the better. Again, we will look at what the word of God, the Bible has to say concerning this subject this morning.

Last week we began our discussion on the family by establishing the fact that there are at least three purposes for the marriage relationship. These three reasons were procreation, meaning that each was created for or on behalf of the other, sexual fulfillment, and companionship. We then discussed the importance of going into the marriage relationship with the intent of staying together for life, that divorce is not an option. We then discussed several attitudes that have led to the family being in a troubled state today. Some of these attitudes included having a bad disposition toward each other, selfishness, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, and lack of repentance.

Now as we continue with our study on the troubled family this morning, we want to examine a few other areas in the marriage relationship that has caused the family to suffer. The first area we want to discuss this morning is that of communication.

We need to get out the instruction book and study about this very fundamental need in every family relationship, a need for husband-wife, for father-son, for mother-daughter. The absolute need of communication between all members of the family unit.

It seems that everyone is talking, but no one is listening. This is extremely dangerous in the close relationship of the family. How many families have been shipwrecked because the husband and wife have not learned how to communicate, to talk and to listen. I would like to look at the matter of communication in the family as Paul discusses this in the Ephesian Letter.

In the second half of the Ephesian letter, Paul discusses various relationships between Christians. In chapter 5, verse 22, he addresses wives. In chapter 5, verse 25, he addressed husbands. In 6:1, he speaks to children. In 6:4, he speaks to parents, fathers specifically. Finally, he discusses the working or business relationships as he exhorts slaves (5:5) and their masters (5:6). Isn't it interesting to note that the inspired apostle Paul deals FIRST with the husband-wife relationship, then the parent-child relationship, then the employer-employee relationship, in that order. One's spouse, his children, and his work should be placed in that unvarying order; and only tragic results come from reversals of shifts in these priorities. Husbands, when you put your job ahead of your wife and your family, then trouble is right around the corner.

The first three chapters of Ephesians deals with God's wonderful scheme of redemption. How that from the beginning of the foundation of this creation He planned and in time executed that redemption by the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, who shed His blood on the cruel tree. God's wonderful love extended to sinful mankind and the reconciliation of both Jew and Gentile now in one body, redeemed and made fellow-citizens in the holy temple of our Lord, the church (3:20-21).

Chapter 4 begins with a discussion of the Christian's walk, his daily manner of Life (4:1). It says to "Walk no more as the Gentiles" (4:17). In 5:1-2, we are told to "walk in love." In 5:8, we are told to "walk as children of light." In 5:15, we are warned to "be careful how we walk." This walk is not a solitary walk, along some guarded path by our self alone; but, rather a walk of one believer with others. The walk of a child of God with other children of God. The walk of a husband with his wife, the wife with her husband, the parent with the child, children with parents, business man with employee, etc. We do not walk in the path of righteousness alone. Christ and our brethren are on the road as well. It is this walk that we sustain with Christ Jesus, and with our brethren that Paul has in mind.

Chapter 4 stresses this point as Paul shows deep concern for unity and fellowship in love. Listen to what the text says in verses 1-6: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Walking together in unity, in the bond of peace. As a member of the family of God I am to strive for unity amongst brethren. As a member of a home, I am to strive for unity in the marriage relationship. With our every fiber let us strive to keep unity and peace. Obviously, unity cannot have precedence over truth; neither in the church nor in the family.

In chapter 4, verse 17, Paul reminds us that we all walked as the Gentiles and were alienated from God, verse 18. Notice the characteristics of that OLD MAN in verse 19, whom you have put away (verse 22). Now, in Christ, you have put on the NEW MAN (verse 24). Paul's letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verses 5-14, stresses the same subject matter adding more emphasis. It is with this background that Paul discusses the basic relationships of the Christian (chapters 5 & 6). How are we to attain development and growth in these relationships?

First of all, the great apostle stresses the need for communication as the basic skill needed to establish and maintain sound relationships. A good husband-wife relationship is impossible without good communication. A wholesome parent-child relationship depends upon communication. Paul's discussion of communication begins in chapter 4, verse 25.

In verse 25, Christians cannot walk together unless they do so on the basis of honesty, openness and truth. Deception, lies, and half-truths will tear a family apart. There must be open channels of communication in a truly Christ centered home.

In verse 26 it says: "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath." We talked about this in last week's lesson. But, how important it is that we learn not to harbor ill feelings. Anger may be handled wrongly in one of two ways. (1) blowing up, or (2) clamming up. Either is sin. The child of God cannot lose his or her temper and throw a tantrum. We cannot explode when things do not go our way. Neither can we harbor resentments. I have read of a couple who were having marriage problems. When they went to a third party for help, she came to the meeting with a manuscript containing 8 X ll sheets of paper, about an inch thick. This manuscript was single-spaced, typewritten on both sides. On it she had listed all of the complaints she had harbored for the past 13 years. She was an extremely resentful wife. This was not only a record of the things the husband had done, but also a record of her bitterness. Wives-Husbands, LOVE NEVER KEEPS RECORDS. Either written or mental. Surely, the husband had to change his ways, but the wife also had to correct her attitudes.

Husbands often point at their wives; wives point at their husbands. And, usually there is plenty to point at on both sides. But pointing at each other never solved a problem. We need to be pointing to the problem and not to each other. Actually we should be pointing to our self. It will amaze you how soon one will agree with you if you simply say, "I have wronged you." Then ask for forgiveness. We should never remove the lid from the others trash can until we have cleaned out our own first. That is where communication begins.

Few things are sapping the strength of the church and undermining marriages more than the inability to walk together and to communicate. But back to our manual, the Bible. In Ephesians 5:29 it says: "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth." Paul is not discussing foul language, though that would indeed be included. This admonition includes any word that would tear down, or cut up another. Husbands, wives, watch your tongue, your choice of words. There is something better we can do with our words. BUILD UP, edify. We need to direct our words toward the problem, not toward the person. Try to build up and not to tear down. What have we accomplished if we shred our companion. What have we accomplished if we have made him or her feel little. Think about it, this one that we may be tearing down now, was once one that we admired and built up. What has changed in our marriage relationship? Most likely, a lack of genuine, sincere communication with one another.

In verse 31 it says: "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice." Again, we touched on this also last week, but how urgent it is for Husband and wife to live without bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and malice. We must work on maintaining a wholesome and good will toward each other. Do not look for the flaws, the mistakes. Look for the strengths, the good things.

Verse 32 says: "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." What a wonderful Savior. It wasn't lovely people He died for; if was ungodly sinners. It was law breakers, rebellious renegades. Yet, he loved us. So, says Paul, we are to love one another. Husband love your wife, wife love your husband, parent love your child, children love your parents. REMEMBER, GOD LOVES YOU! And He does it in spite of our mistakes and errors.

As we continue our study of the troubled family this morning now lets shift the communication arena from the husband - wife relationship to the parent - child relationship. We often hear of the generation gap. That huge expanse between parent and child. Perhaps it is an acquaintance gap. Young people and adults do not know each other. The inability to communicate often enters the picture. Sometimes it is because neither knows what the other is interested in. They live under the same roof, but they rarely see one another. Especially after the teenage years come along. The father goes off to work before the children are awake. Mother may go back to bed after seeing the husband off to work; or off to her own job. Teenagers get themselves up and off to school without seeing either parent. Then after school there is ball practice, band practice, or something else that consumes their time; maybe a job that lasts until bedtime. Parents have things that tie them up in the evenings; so the days come and go, and there is precious little time spent together. A meal together is even a rare occasion. All of these activities may be wholesome and proper, but still the family suffers because there is so little time spent together, let alone time spent in teaching and instruction. This causes many children to make too many decisions on their own, and so often they will leave spiritual matters out of their thoughts and plans.

Let us never make the mistake of thinking the child is born in our house, he grows up in our house, and as a result we suppose that he or she will turn out all right because he is our child. Parents, it takes constant work, time and concern. Talk to your children. Keep the communication lines open at all times. And be sure that you listen to them. Communication is the key to a happy, successful home. May we all strive to do much better in this area so that we can change from a troubled family to a loving, peaceful family.

Discipline or the lack of it, has led to many troubled families today. But when discipline is used, be sure that it is used with dignity. In Paul's first letter to Timothy, he lists the qualifications of those men who are to serve as overseers in the family of God. One of the requirements found in 1 Tim. 3:4 is that the father should "have his children in subjection with all gravity." This word "gravity" suggests reverence, dignity. Fathers, you are the authority of that household and ultimately you shall be judged as to how you ruled your own house. But though authority must be exercised, it must be done with true dignity, that is, it must be done in such a manner that the father's firmness makes it advisable for a child to obey, that his wisdom makes it natural for a child to obey, and that his love makes it a pleasure for the child to obey.

In Ephesians. 6:4, Paul states: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." He is saying that the child should be nurtured in the chastening and admonition of the Lord. He also states, "Provoke not your children to wrath (anger)." Do not EXASPERATE your children, that they lose heart. The term means to take the wind out of them. Do not break your child. Does not this describe what has happened in so many today? Angry exasperation so clearly describes the prevalent attitude of rebellion among so many young people. They have become exasperated with their parents. They have given up on them. And in turn they have given up on the adult world around them. In anger they turn their backs on their parents and close their ears, their minds, and their hearts. They cannot be reached. They are not excused for such actions; but, neither are parents excused for provoking them to anger. The fact is true far too often that children have not been disciplined as the Bible (our manual) teaches.

Then there is the area of under discipline or lack of discipline. One thing that is a major factor in exasperating children is the matter of under discipline. The child never knows where he or she stands. The parent says: "If you do that you are going to get a spanking." Tomorrow he does it -- nothing happens. The next day he does it again -- nothing happens. The third day, mom is exasperated herself and when he does the same thing he has done for the past three days, she whops him good. Thus no consistent discipline. When the rules change day by day, the child does not know where he stands. When rules are enforced only at the parent's whims, the child is confused. Wouldn't you become exasperated if the rules for baseball changed every time you played? What if your child changed the rules every time you played checkers with him or her?

Sometimes as parents, we keep moving the boundaries. It TAKES EFFORT to discipline properly. It takes time. One of the most precious commodities parents owe their children is their TIME. We cannot give up to quickly on our children. Young people want rules. They want to KNOW where the limits are. Spell them out. Be specific. Let your children know what the results will be when they break the rules. And never make a rule that you do not fully expect to enforce. If that happens, the child does not think that you mean business. They do not think that your are dependable. Too many rules may be as exasperating as no rules at all. Isn't it interesting that when God put Adam and Eve in the garden He gave them one rule. And the penalty was clearly spelled out. Then when they broke the rule, Jehovah followed through. Such has always been God's arrangements. May we ever learn from Him. Go back to the manual.

As with under disciplining, so likewise over disciplining may also provoke children to wrath. As much as we need to understand that the father is the authority in the home, one should never flaunt that authority. The use of authority simply because one has authority will cause resentment and anger on the part of the other members of the family. This will lead to rebellion against that authority. Authority is given for the benefit of the child, not for some egotistical attitude on the part of the father. The assertion of authority often leads to foolish and overly rigid rules. If the love of God gave commandments that are not grievous (1 John 5:3), why should ours be?

Another example of over discipline is saying NO to everything. This is not to say that NO has no place in discipline, for surely it does. But, suppose every time you spoke to the husband or wife, you only heard NO or DON'T. Suppose there was never a word of encouragement or appreciation. Suppose he saw only your mistakes, and always managed to squeeze the word NO into every conversation. How would you feel? And yet, this is exactly the way many parents come across to their children. No encouragement, nothing about the good things they do. It is always the noise, the broken dish, the muddy feet, and on and on. It takes effort to commend the good, to encourage right actions and deeds. But, how needed it is!

In conclusion, I want to say that rebellious children are a heartache to parents. But, if we will get back to the instruction book, the Divine Pattern, the finished product will once again reflect the image of God and be what the Lord so intended that we be. So also, in the family relationship, let us pick up the manual, open the book and on bended knees, pray for God's help in making our families the kind of families that the Lord so intended that they be.

I close with Matthew 7:25 which says: "and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock." If your family is founded upon the rock of God's Word, it will withstand the rains of controversy, the floods of differences, the winds of trials, and be the glorious, rewarding adventure that the Lord so planned for you.

Thank you so much for listening this morning as we concluded our study of the troubled family. It is my hope and prayer that you have profited from this study and that your home and family relationship will prosper from this time forward. I would like to invite each and every one of you in our listening audience to tune in again next week here on WAVG radio for another presentation of "What Is Truth?" Next week, the Lord willing, we will be discussing the subject of "Can A Child Of God Fall From Grace?" Many in the religious word think that once one becomes a Christian that they are now saved, no matter what they may do. Does the Bible teach that? Please listen next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. as we answer this question. May God grant all of you the very best as you continue to search for "What Is Truth?"

This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"